By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, CCE, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council
I just returned from Washington, DC where I spent two days with my Chamber colleagues from across the United States. As a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE,) I have the privilege of helping to shape the work of this revered association and the industry as a whole. What struck me during this set of meetings more than anything else, was the commonality and concern regarding workforce quantity and quality. Whether the Chamber representative was from a large metropolitan area or an emerging market they expressed the same concerns. Each noted some level of distress over whether the supply of graduates being produced by Colleges, Universities and Technical Schools were going to be sufficiently trained for future workforce requirements.
ACCE is known for pushing thought leadership in areas such as K-12 Education, diversity and inclusion, economic and workforce development and public policy concerns. It is the preeminent association providing innovative leadership and professional development for the staff at all levels of the Chamber of Commerce industry. Right now for instance, ACCE’s partnership with the Lumina Foundation is spreading the genius of the FutureMakers program, (raising the attainment percentage of post high school certifications, two and four year degrees,) across many of our hometowns.
The beauty of engagement in ACCE is the culture of sharing and mutual support. Where one community has overcome a particular challenge, they are happy to provide guidance and lessons learned to another. This defines the very nature of what characterizes Chamber professionals. They are in this business because they want to facilitate positive outcomes and to solve really difficult problems. I am proud to call them, change agents for good.